The Perinatal Hepatitis B Prevention Program works to identify the hepatitis B status of pregnant women, to communicate with those at high risk for transmitting hepatitis B infection to their infants, and to ensure access to hepatitis B vaccine and hepatitis B immune globulin. The main goal is to reduce the incidence of hepatitis B in infants born to women with hepatitis B.
Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection in a pregnant woman poses a serious risk to her infant at birth. Without post-exposure immunoprophylaxis, up to 45% of infants born to HBV-infected mothers in the United States will become infected. Up to 90% of those infected will develop chronic, life-long HBV infection, approximately one-fourth of whom will eventually die from chronic liver disease. Perinatal HBV transmission can be prevented by identifying HBV-infected (i.e. hepatitis B surface antigen [HBsAg]-positive) pregnant women, and providing hepatitis B immune globulin and hepatitis B vaccine to their infants within 12 hours of birth.
All pregnant women should be tested during an early prenatal visit with EACH pregnancy, even if tested before or previously vaccinated. If a woman tests positive for hepatitis B during her pregnancy, the local District Office of the Vermont Department of Health will be notified, as will the perinatal hepatitis B coordinator who notifies the hospital. They will help make sure that the woman and her baby receive the proper education, medication and vaccination to prevent the spread of hepatitis B during the birth.
The universal birth dose of hepatitis B vaccine for ALL infants is recommended by CDC.